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Highbridge Park, Pool & Water Tower

About this listing

Waterfront park in northern Manhattan

Place Details

Borough : Manhattan
Neighborhood : Washington Heights
Infrastructure, Play

Place Matters Profile

By the mid 1950s, the Irish, Jewish, and Greek composition of nearby Washington Heights began changing as more Puerto Ricans and African-Americans moved into the neighborhood. The pool's users started to reflect the changing ethnic make-up. Police monitored Highbridge Play Center so that anyone, regardless of race, could swim there without danger. However, many African-American and Puerto Rican youths did not always feel safe walking the streets that led to the pool. Different gangs, many comprised of young people from various racial backgrounds, laid claim on local turf. Tensions between them came to a head when, in the summer of 1957, 15-year-old Michael Farmer was killed in Highbridge Park by the members of two gangs, the Dragons and Egyptian Kings. Farmer was white and from Washington Heights, and his attackers were African-Americans, Latinos, and Irish. After a heavily publicized trial, four of the gang members were found guilty of killing...

Read More


Gutman, Marta."Equipping the Public Realm: Rethinking Robert Moses and Recreation," in Robert Moses and the Modern City: The Transformation of New York, eds., Hillary Ballon and Kenneth Jackson

Snyder, Robert W. "A Useless and Terrible Death: The Michael Farmer Case, 'Hidden Violence,' and New York City in the Fifties," unpublished manuscript, 2007

Landmarks Preservation Commission designation report on Highbridge Play Center, Aug. 14, 2007

NYC Parks Department website:

New York Restoration Project, "Natural Area Mapping and Inventory of Highbridge Park: Final Report for Environmental Protection Funds from the Hudson River Estuary Grant Program," 1999.

[Posted, March 2008]

On The Web

NYC Dept. of Parks & Recreation
Highbridge Park Flickr Page


Elizabeth Starcevic

The pool is an important meeting place for all ethnic groups and is a beautiful place of relief in the summer. It had some negative publicity around the "capeman" tragedy.

The entrance clock and water tower tell us that the majestic pool is just behind, and welcomes all as a beautiful place of relief and pleasure in the summer.

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